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'War Room' draws battle lines with Satan and secularism
In this photo provided by courtesy of AFFIRM Films/Provident Films, Karen Abercrombie, left, as Miss Clara celebrates as Priscilla Shirer as Elizabeth Jordan shares how God answered a specific prayer in a scene from the film, "War Room." - photo by Jerry Johnston
Film critics tend to take a dim view of message movies, especially when the message concerns religion, repentance and such. So it comes as no surprise that the Christian movie War Room was able to win over just 36 percent of reviewers on the Rotten Tomatoes website as of Friday afternoon.

Its also no surprise the audience a niche audience has given the film almost unanimous acclaim.

It's a disconnect that shows up time after time when faith films are rated.

War Room uses the time-honored Christian tradition of turning military terms into the language of salvation. The Salvation Army itself is the best example, with its military ranks for volunteers and rousing renditions of Onward, Christian Soldiers. The Army even had a spiritual Manhattan Project at one time, to parallel the atomic bomb.

Here, we meet an aging widow whose husband was a military strategist in a war room, so now she has made a war room of her own, a quiet place for prayer and Bible reading. She convinces a young mother to do the same to save her own crumbling life and marriage. The widow hopes the mother can avoid the land mines she herself didnt.

Victories dont come by accident, she declares.

And I think it is that kind of language, Christian rhetoric, that sends a cold shiver down the backs of critics. They may quibble with the professionalism of the film, but once the words "divine intervention" come into play, the game is pretty much over.

I have friends who say the four-letter words they hear in modern movies ruin the films for them. And I can understand that, even when theres a touching story and valuable insights to found in the movie.

I also have friends who hear religious rhetoric on the screen and head for the exit, even when theres something of worth to be gleaned.

And the War Room is a film filled with what many critics may feel is verboten language. The G word (grace) is used often, as is the P word (prayer). But for anyone who hangs with the film, theres also a heartfelt story to be found.

And that, for me, is what is the most surprising. Whether you agree or disagree with Christian films, theres seldom any doubt that the makers honestly believe in the sentiments they share. You have to wonder how many secular filmmakers are as authentic. In fact, you have to wonder how many politicians, business people and writers are so sincere.

Christian movies often have faults and flaws, but they also have an authentic feel that can't be faked. People vote with their hearts when they choose to make a Christian film. And if you watch with your heart, you can connect deeply with souls who build war rooms in their homes to shelter their tears, tenderness and, yes, their testimonies.
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